Well, it's been awhile... Yes, indeed. Anyways, I plan to start updating this fairly regularly until I've finished it. Yay! Hooray!

Disclaimer- I don't own Hiiro no Kakera. Far from...

onward.

Chapter 1

I wandered through the streets of the town, looking around for a place that I could crash at for a day or two until the bus returned to the town. Kifumura Village was fairly adorable compared to Tokyo, which I was becoming rather used to since our last move. That wasn't what I was particularly concerned with though. I was now in a much smaller place with a totally new set of people. So basically, I felt like I'd just moved again... without all the parental benefits, apparently.

An elderly woman happily allowed me to stay at her inn despite the fact that I lacked the sums to pay for it properly. I promised her that I would work to pay back her kindness. So now I was in need of a temporary job. Mostly because then I'd have something to do while I stayed there. Then yet another thing dawned on me. My parents were probably insane with worry because I wasn't at home. So an awkward phone call made it to the top of my list of things to do.

"Ana-san?" I addressed the elderly inns keeper. She smiled at me warmly and motioned me over.

"What is it, dear?" Ana-san asked. I walked over to her slowly, and sat down in the chair ajacent to her.

"May I use the phone?" I asked. I had left my own cell phone at home, so that I would be well hidden from my parents while I was gone, but now, all my earlier decisions were placing me in quite the predicament. I brought some money, but now it was all gone on my expenses to stay at the inn.

"Of course, it's right over there," she told me. I stood and walked to the phone, standing there for a moment and staring blankly at the keypad. I was way past nervous. I was so scared of how my mother would react that I was beside myself. I feared that I might even break out into a cold sweat at any moment. I inhaled deeply and closed my eyes. One... Two... Three... I opened my eyes and dialed my mom's cell phone number.

"Hello?" my mother's voice swam over me. She sounded exhausted, and I almost choked on my words. I felt so bad...

"Hey... Mom," I said slowly. At that moment, my mom became very unpredictable to me. I had no idea of how she would react. I had never done anything like this before, so who knew how she would even feel about it.

"LEIKO ALLIYAH IKEDA! Where are you?! Come home right this instant! You are in so much trouble, young lady!" my mom practically roared through the phone. A nervous laugh slipped through my lips. I pulled at my brunette hair nervously.

"I... I can't, mom..." I replied slowly. My mom let out a frustrated sigh.

"Everyone's worried about you, and no one knows where you are. Come home, so we can get this all settled," my mom said gently. Now my mom was not an asian woman. She grew up in the United States, always facing people who tried to put her down. She wasn't surprised by how rebellious I was; my mom just worried more about it because I wasn't too much like her. I tended to not think things through. My day said he was like that when he was younger, he just wasn't as spirited as Mom.

"I am in Kifumura Village. The next bus doesn't come until next week," I informed her. My mom became so quiet that I could hear my heartbeat. I felt really cold, and my knees were shaking. I was afraid of how she would react. My mom let out a slow breath.

"See? This is what I've been warning you about, Leiko," she began slowly. I could feel panic ripple through me. My mom was calm, too calm.

"Mom... I'm sorry... I didn't mean to-"

"Leiko. You were the one who decided to run off like you did. Maybe it will be good for you, staying in Kifumura. I'll get you transferred into the school system if you just fax me the papers. Just give me your address, and we'll get this all handled as quickly as possible," my mom said in an authoritative tone. My heart dropped. I was going to start living on my own in this small village?

"Wait, Mom! Please, this isn't-" I could feel tears burning in my eyes.

"Leiko... You have backed me into a corner. I just don't know what to do with you anymore. Maybe you'll start pulling yourself together. I don't know, but your father and I will keep you in stationary. You don't have to move anywhere or anything like that. Now what did you say your address was? Oh nevermind, I'll just get you an apartment." Click. My mom just hung up without even saying good-bye. I wiped quickly at my tears, and Ana-san patted my back lightly.

"I take it you'll be staying here for a little while?" she asked me. I shook my head slightly.

"I'll be in Kifumura Village for a while, a few years, I guess," I replied. My voice sounded a bit foreign to me. I didn't usually carry such a rough accent when I spoke. The first language I learned was English, but the accent I had was tainted with a British accent, which wasn't too odd, since I had stayed there for about four years from the ages ten to fourteen. Ana-san rubbed my back kindly before waddling off to take care of some work. I stretched my arms and rolled my shoulders quickly. I had several things to take care of.

I walked out into the mid-morning sunshine. The sky was full of fluffy white clouds. The weather was incredible. I asked around about the school, and eventually found my way to it. The school was much larger than I expected, and the uniforms were very outdated. I didn't really care though. It wasn't like I had much of a choice in the matter. It took me a few minutes to find the principal's office. I knocked only once before being allowed to enter.

"Hello," the elderly man behind the desk smiled, "Are you here about the job that opened in the English department? We're in need of a new English teacher." I blushed slightly, feeling a bit flustered by the thought that the principle seeing me as old enough to teach.

"Oh no... Umm... I'm here to, well, enroll," I began awkwardly enough, "as a student." The principle blinked once, removed his glasses in order to clean them, and then replaced them.

"Oh," he said, sounding just a bit surprised. I smiled a little. I knew that I would look a bit odd to him. I was a mixed girl, who spoke Japanese rather fluently, and yet I was young and without a parent to consent to my enrollment.

"I know this is a bit sudden... but, I really need the enrollment forms," I told him, flatting my hands against my shorts and wiping the sweat off of them as nonchalantly as I could. The principle opened a drawer quickly and handed me the papers.

"Bring them back, signed and filled out by your parent or guardian. I trust you're a good, honest girl," he said to me. I paled a degree, suddenly feeling a bit bad. I was not a good or honest girl. I didn't even know how I gave off the impression of being one.

"Thank you," I bowed quickly and left the stuffy room. The principle was far too nice for his own good. It was at that point that students began to flood the halls. This was a bit overwhelming for me. They were flitting from one room to the next with bentos or running off to the school yard or something of the sort. I ended up running into a tall guy with dark, gray-brown hair and red eyes.

"Who are you?" he asked, eyeing what I was wearing carefully. Compared to me, his skin was rather fair. I tucked my hands quickly into the pockets of my hoodie.

"I'm just a new student," I replied simply. I didn't feel like he needed much of a further explination.

"Kutani-kun!" a girl called. I glanced over at where the voice was coming from and saw that it was the same girl I'd seen earlier. I felt kind of sick to my stomach, seeing her again. I wasn't quite prepared for it. She paused when she saw me, then approached.

"Huh? Why are you here?" she asked me. I blinked, and turned away slightly to groan. She seemed like a dunce.

"Hello again," I said in a broken voice. Her eyes widened as she seemed to realize something.

"My name is Kasuga Tamaki. I didn't tell you before," she introduced herself, smiling all the while. I bowed slightly.

"Nice... to meet you..." I answered. I almost felt like all the joy was being sapped out of the world. That girl was too happy... She actually seemed so happy that I wondered if the space-time continuum was slowly being ripped apart by it.

"So, Ikeda-san (right?)," Kasuga started again, and I nodded slightly when she said my name right, "Are you a foreigner?" I almost died at the blunt question. It seemed her guy-friend was just as curious. My eyebrow twitched slightly.

"Oh, you know... Maybe," I said and started to walk away, hoping to escape them before I ran into any more of Kasuga's interesting male friends.

"Hey! That's not a straight answer!" she pouted as I ran off, slipping out the front door of the school rather successfully without being stopped. I then trudged down the road in search of a place where I could fax the school papers to my mom before she had another fit. There was a small mail shop that also faxed papers for a small sum of money. I paid with the little yen that I had left, and received a fax back after a few hours of waiting. I had nothing better to do anyway.

By that point, it was about time for students to start heading home. I also received an extra paper from my mom explaining my housing situation. She'd already found and rented a place for me to stay. She said my stuff from home would arrive in three days. I just had to scrape by best I could until then. She also described allowance and boring things of that sort. I was already immensely tired, and I still had things to do.

I went back to the inn and retrieved my things and thanked Ana-san profusely. She had been so kind to me. I then went to the person who my mom was renting the apartment from. It was a small place, but that sort of made it perfect. I dumped my stuff in the room and trekked back to the school. It seemed that the fastest students were already gone, but some were still trailing out of the entrance. That was about when I saw Atori.

He was with one of the tall guys that I had seen then too. He had light silver (or maybe it's white) hair. He was very handsome. That was at least what I interpreted him to be. I crossed my fingers and hoped that they wouldn't notice me. Did I ever mention that I was never very lucky?

"Ikeda-san?" I heard a soft voice ask. It was the tall guy with questionable yet beautiful gray (white?) hair. I froze in my tracks. Right, I wasn't lucky.

"Umm... hello there?" I replied with a tiny wave, feeling awkward mostly because I didn't want to explain why I was there at all. Atori eyed me curiously, but it felt more like a glare than anything else. I wondered if I was annoying to him.

"What are you doing here?" Atori asked with a raised eyebrow.

"It seems I'll be around for awhile," I shrugged and began to turn back toward the entrance of the school.

"What year?" the pretty guy asked.

"Third year," I answered over my shoulder and ran into the school before the two could question me any further. I never particularly liked talking to other people because in doing so, I could end up with friendships that would make just that much harder to leave when I eventually did. I was used to being all alone, and quite preferred it that way.

I entered the principle's office and handed him the paperwork. He accepted it, and was all smiles with me as he entered me into the student registry. I was very used to this. It had happened a lot to me. Switching schools wasn't that much of a big deal to me. After talking to the principle and taking my class assignment papers, I went to the nurse's office and received my uniform. Soon enough, I was headed home. I would start classes after tomorrow.

I pulled out a futon that was hidden in one of the closets. It was a bit old, but well taken care of. I fell asleep there, not even having a bite of dinner.

It was a bit short, but I did happen to lose the chapter multiple times, which means, this is probably not as good as it was before... BUT, I am no longer crippled, so updating things should be soaringly easy from now on.

Now, on to all of those who reviewed...

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Thanks a bunch, you guys are awesome! I'm so sorry that it took me so long to update. A lot of stuff happened... Ugh, it's really late at night for me. My eyes burn.

But anyways, I hope you haven't all forgotten about me or anything... And reviews are amazing.

~Minatu-chan